The Olentangy Board of Education had a packed house with several agenda items for its first meeting at the school district’s new administrative office.
Board members met Thursday in the Berlin Room, one of six conference rooms named after townships in Delaware County, at 7840 Graphics Way in Lewis Center. The freshly painted blue walls had two flat-screen TVs attached to show presentations, in addition to a projector screen behind board members. Superintendent Mark Raiff said the setup wasn’t finalized.
The district’s administrative office staff have been at the new building for three weeks since moving from the old space at Shanahan Middle School but it feels like forever, Raiff said. “I don’t feel like we lost a minute of the productivity in the move.”
Some residents who attended the meeting stood in the back of the 1,900-square-foot room as most seats were filled, including about 25 community members, with their families, who were awarded for their service to the school district.
“This is a great crowd,” said Olentangy Board President Roger Bartz. “… Welcome to the first board meeting in the new building.”
Following the awards ceremony, the district approved several action items including the hiring of a new Olentangy principal, the May 2017 five-year financial forecasts, renewal of administrative contracts and raising lunch prices by 10 cents.
Robert Griffiths will replace Thomas McDonnell as the principal for Olentangy High School. McDonnell got an administrator job at Dublin schools.
Although excited to start the new year, Griffiths said he plans to finish the year strong as an assistant principal at Olentangy Liberty High School.
“It will be difficult to leave some of the student relationships [at Liberty],” he said.
Griffiths has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Concordia University. He’s worked for school district since 2000 and became assistant principal at Liberty in 2015, after his son and daughter graduated from the school.
“I’m ecstatic to get started,” he said.
School board officials also approved the May 2017 five-year financial forecast without any changes from the first reading in April.
Under the May forecast, the district would have an an unencumbered cash balance of $33,330,234 and could operate for 48 days without receiving additional revenues at the end of 2021.
Changes since the October forecast include a $1.6-million, 0.8-percent, increase in the revenues for fiscal year 2017. The increase is driven by increases of 6 to 8 percent in the public utility personal property tax and tax increment financing valuations over previous estimates. This offset less money than expected from the general property tax and unrestricted grants-in-aid.
One thing not included in the forecast were updates to more than 30 administrative contracts up for renewal Thursday night. Kevin O’Brien was the only board member to vote against the renewed contracts after he confirmed that the forecast did not reflect the contracts with the school treasurer.
The contracts were for two to three years, but annual salary figures were not available.
“There are some salary modifications that we are recommending for some of these administrators to put them in line with comparative districts, which is above the normal cost of living increase,” Raiff said. “… This is a planned approach to retain the talent that we have and attract the future talent should we replace those administrators.”
O’Brien told The Gazette he wasn’t comfortable with some of the compensation changes to the contracts.
“We have great administrators and I value what they do. I just felt that the timing and amounts were out of market,” he said.
Additionally, the board approved to increase the price of students lunches by 10-cents to $2.50 for elementary school; $2.75 for middle school; and $3 for high school.
Not discussed was Delaware County’s expected adoption of a Tax Increment Financing resolution by county commissioners as some adjustments are needed.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.